Wired Experiments With Conversational Media Advertising

Taking a cue from media properties like The Awl and Gawker, Wired has taken its first official foray into conversational media advertising with Cloudline, a blog sponsored by IBM. If you’re unfamiliar with conversational media, it’s a technique employed by advertising companies that seeks to mix brand messages more seamlessly into a blog’s content: think Sponsored Posts instead of typical sidebar ads.

But blogs like Cloudline take this idea a step further–instead of creating dedicated Sponsored Posts to run on a regular blog, Cloudline is a sponsored property in itself, with a logo reading “Wired Cloudline: Sponsored by IBM.” This means that independent posts by editor Jon Stokes mingle with posts by IBM employees, like Nick Coleman, a Global Cloud Security Leader at IBM. The posts are differentiated by an “IBM” tag appended to IBM-penned posts.

Many media companies have long been running sponsored posts and advertorial blogs, but as AdWeek notes, this is the first time a premium brand like Wired, owned by Condé Nast, has gotten in on the action. Many companies are still wary of the loss of editorial control inherent to conversational media. Kristin Haarlow, associate media director at Spark Communications, told AdWeek of Cloudline: “If you let the blogs do exactly what they’re supposed to do, you open the door to positive and negative feedback. That’s a risk some brands aren’t willing to take yet.”

According to its Members Directory, Cloudline only boasts 269 members so far, so it’s unclear whether this idea will take root–but it introduces some interesting advertising ideas for other premium content brands looking to increase their digital revenue.